One of the best Monty Python sketches ever (debatable) is Confuse-a-cat, a deranged story of a business that saves cats’ lives by confusing them. They set up a stage a do a happening-sort of performance, soundtracked by jazz music (of course!). This is a business that saves owners from wondering what is lil’ micifus looking at blankly.
If a band we modernised the essence of this sketch, we would have Great Deeds. Jazz with punk (or the other way around, I can never truly tell). They deftly mix the screams and staccato chords of punk with the dissonant melodies of jazz. It shouldn’t work neither on paper nor on practise, but it does and ever so well.
After a previous EP raised a few eyebrows and helped bandy their name around, they are now back, with the instaclassic titled Disastrochimp. Just by title enough you will understand you’re in for a treat.
The first notes of ‘Bulb’ herald something epic and heavy, just like Eric Idle’s Concorde to John Cleese’s Lancelot. And just like a deadly arrow (with a note attached), the frantic pace changes to a jazz/scream/riff structure. A structure that tumbles down again and again with every break and late 70s punk infused scream. Yes, it’s Jazz Punk but the heavy bass line speaks the language of metal. This is a fierce cocktail and it’s the first track. It’s like starting your drinking marathon with a high octane Perry (8% is best).
‘Tongue’ is a little less CBGBs and a bit more Blue Note Jazz Club, although the singing does cling heavily to the Isaac Brock’s school of vocal gymnastics: screams, wails and staccato notes. In a nutshell: a Dalek with a Dead Boys’ tribute band, having a fantastic time. ‘Brick’ is more melodic, never losing it’s firm grasp on Jazz and going for a grittier vocal approach. It’s almost metal, but without the macabre lyrics about ancient Gods playing dominoes with humanity’s fate.
After three solid tracks we find ourselves gnawing at the bone, like an intergalactic anthropophagus blancmange. ‘Leger’ has this extreme sense of doom; a maelstrom of emotions compressed into 2:36 minutes. A solid punch that makes you realise you had a glass jaw altogether. Love the “quiet” bit of the song. You’ll recognise it. You’ll like it. It’s a final suckerpunch that turns into a haymaker.
But worry not: this is not fight music. It’s actually quite uplifting, even if it feels there’s an undercurrent of sadness in these five tracks. I say so because the last track, ‘Blueprint’, is energetic but at the same time, downbeat. Maybe it’s that interlude with glockenspiel that feels like the moment when you let anger recede and you look back at what you did. The consequences might be dire or not, but there’s no turning back; the chemical reaction was irreversible.
So, that’s Disastrochimp: an irreversible chemical reaction. It’s heavy and it’s a mix that might not please the purists of jazz or punk, but it’s a prime example that you can have your cake and eat it too. And, heck, you gotta respect that title.